The Kindness of Clovis

posted in: Day In The Life 14
The famous “Gateway to the Sierras” suspended street sign in Clovis. Photo: Me.


I woke up in California today.

Specifically, I woke up in California’s San Joaquin Valley, in Fresno County, in the town of Clovis. I had a gig this weekend and the gig was marvelous. Lecture went great; class went great. All was merry and bright, except that I wasn’t feeling terribly well when I arrived on Friday. But what can you do? You keep calm; you carry on. By the time the class ended yesterday, however, sleeping for about 12 hours seemed like a real smart thing to do. And that’s what I thought I would do, except when the incandescent Jessi and the captivating Vicki (who I have a feeling is going to help me find my puppy, y’all) dropped me off at my hotel, I had to change plans. It was only 4 p.m. and I knew that if I fell asleep right that minute, I’d wake up at 9 p.m. and then … cut to 2 a.m. and I’m up, eatin’ chips … and potentially missing my 6:30 a.m. flight. No bueno.

“Fons,” I said, sitting down on the edge of the bed in my room. “Fons.”

“Yes?” I answered myself, weary, dreading what I was going to say.

“You’re a five-minute walk to downtown Clovis, Fons. C’mon! Go down there and check it out! It’s that cool, old town kinda thing, remember? It looked so neat when you drove through yesterday.”

“I am not feeling very well,” I said. “And my contacts are so crispy.”

“Wear your glasses.”

I whined. “It’s sunnnnnnny.”

“Stop it. One hour, tops. Take some pictures. You’re behind on your Instagram.”

I knew I was right, so I heaved me off the bed. I took out my contacts; I put on my glasses. I got a totebag and made sure my phone had a charge. I put on my flip-flops, stuck my hotel key in my pocket, and out I went.

Downtown Clovis was neat. There was lots to see: tons of antique stores; great old signs; good-lookin’ restaurants; a men’s store that has been in business since 1900 or something bananas like that. And it was Winter Formal or something, so I saw a some high school couples out in their finery. As I walked around this street and that, I realized how much I was enjoying myself, how I felt better just by doing “nothing.” Please believe me that I do not see it as some badge of honor that I cannot remember the last time I had an hour or two like that, just walking, taking pictures, doing nothing, totally off the clock. I’m so rarely ever, ever off the clock. But I was, in Clovis yesterday, for just over an hour. I’m glad it happened, glad I convinced myself to go for it.

But when the sun began to slip away around 6:30 or so, I realized I was on empty, for real this time. I needed water, too. I kept thinking I’d find a Walgreen’s or a CVS and my plan was to buy two big bottles of Perrier and a bag of popcorn and that would be my dinner. You know how sometimes, that’s the best dinner? Just popcorn. Well, I walked and walked and … Nothing. I started looking for a tiny market shop or even a liquor store, but no dice. I decided to just walk on out of town and back to my hotel, but this was the pits! Surely there was a place nearby I could get a bottle of water and a bag of popcorn.

I saw a woman walking a few paces ahead of me. “Excuse me, Miss?” I said. “I’m sorry; could you tell me if there’s a Walgreen’s nearby or something like it?”

“Oh, well, let’s see,” the woman said, and she pointed down the main road. “I think there’s one down that way … Maybe just a couple miles down?”

I thanked her and shook my head. “I’m on foot, I’m afraid. I’m here for the quilt show and just thought I’d come walk around a little, find some snacks. No worries! Thank you for your help.”

“Oh, I’m a quilter!” the woman said. “Want me to give you a lift? I’m happy to do it.”

Mind you, this lady didn’t know who I was. She sort of knew about Fons & Porter (and when I told her about Quiltfolk she was very excited) but she’s new to the whole thing and is just getting into longarming. So this wasn’t a “Oh! Oh my goodness! It’s Mary Fons! Eee! Do you need a ride??” kind of a thing. No, this lovely woman — Pam — gave a complete stranger/out-of-towner a ride to get popcorn and water simply because that’s the kind of person she is. Can you believe it? She didn’t know me from Eve! When I told her how grateful I was that she was taking the time to help me out, she shrugged it off and said:

“Honey, I’m a Christian. It’s my job.”

That’s my kinda Christian, Pam. And downtown Clovis, that’s my kind of sightseeing.

Well done, all.

14 Responses

  1. Colleen
    | Reply

    I live in a small town in California right next to San Francisco Bay
    We have 1 high school 1 middle school 2 grocery stores
    I love small town USA right nearby BIG town USA

  2. Liz Fong
    | Reply

    Wonderful story! I lived in Clovis while I was in college and a bit after graduation. I remember that it was a fabulous place. I took a few beginning quilting classes at a local quilt shop there. I am a piecer and quilter now. Congrats on becoming the editor of Quiltfolk.

  3. Barbara
    | Reply

    Small towns can be some of the friendliest to visit! When we moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Sevierville, Tennessee, I never looked back. The people here are so genuine! And, who doesn’t need genuine people these days? That’s one thing I’ve discovered reading your blog. Up to this point, I only knew you from your Fons and Porter quilting videos. And, let’s face it, you really don’t see or get to know the people in the screen. Mary, with this blog, you have shown us what a ‘genuine’ person you are! Thank you!!

  4. jean m
    | Reply

    Lovely story, Mary!Thank you for reminding us there are still good, kind people in our mist.

  5. Melinda Seegers
    | Reply

    Loved this account of the Good Samaritan. This type of conduct is not limited to Clovis, CA. We had a similar experience in Ireland last summer. We had taken the train to visit one of the many castles in the picturesque countryside and were told that the castle was a “short “ walk up the road. After walking and getting lost, my husband finally pulled out a map. We were standing in front of a parking lot looking like lost tourists, which we were, when a woman approached us and asked if she could help. After talking a few minutes she said, “I live just down the road, I will drop you off.” She drove us to the entrance and waited until we found out that we could get a taxi back to the train station. Now that’s Irish hospitality!

  6. Beverly Letsche
    | Reply

    The majority of quilters are extremely nice people. Glad you found what you needed.

  7. Katheyn
    | Reply

    Thanks for a lovely read before I start my day!

  8. shirley
    | Reply

    Wow! What a sweet story. I am going to remember that quote “I’m a Christian. It’s my job.” Thank you for sharing. Hope you are feeling re energized.

  9. Kathie Hood
    | Reply

    Miss Mary,
    My father strolled the “streets” of Clovis during WWII and met the most wonderful couple Don Buddington, Sr and his wife. My dad and his buddy Jack stopped to speak with the man who offered them lemonade and a rest in their yard. They became fast friends and Pop Buddington became a grandfather image to us. The wonderful couple had one son Don Buddiungton, Jr and he was to be my father’s Best Man . For many years their friendship was the gift of my father’s Army Air Corps service years. Pop Bud provided many lessons in gardening and wisdom about house maintenance for a young soldier who had not had the influence of a father growing up. Over the summer they helped Pop put in trees and generally landscape his yard which at that time was new to the Fresno general area. Clovis was a development then. What developed was a lifelong friendship from a small town stroll.

  10. Christine
    | Reply

    We were stationed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with the US Army while my son was in high school. He needed to take the PSAT in the US, so I drove him over an hour down to a small town in North Dakota to a K-12 school, where a number of students from the whole area were converging to take the test. I brought a quilting project to work on while he was taking the test, and asked one of the teachers if there was a lounge where I could sit and quilt. A woman took me by the arm, marched me out the front door of the school and pointed down the street to a house with a flag pole in front of it. She told me to go to that house and make myself at home – it was her house! Not to worry, as the door was unlocked. I thanked her, but declined and said I was fine with a chair and some good lighting somewhere. I grew up in a small town, and hadn’t realized until that moment how Army life had changed me. Quite a few teachers stopped by to “see” me while I quilted that day.

  11. Anna Chapman
    | Reply

    Mary, so glad you enjoyed our little town of Clovis, CA. We sure enjoyed having you at our SJVQG Quilt show Friday evening and Saturday. We’ve been discussing your “Things I’ve Learned” message all weekend. My husband and I decided you were speaking to us! Thanks again and keeping you in our prayers. Many blessings coming your way.

  12. Nadine Foreman
    | Reply

    As the sign says “Clovis, a way of life”.
    Thank you for your kind words.

  13. Barbara Sindlinger
    | Reply

    I work in Clovis and agree it’s a wonderful downtown area. Too bad you weren’t able to sample some great restaurants we have there too. Sorry I missed you at the quilt show.

  14. Kathy Langford
    | Reply

    What a beautiful story.

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